Fast Breaks Newsfront: April 30, 2001

Sun Down

Sun Microsystems plans to shut down its operations during the first week in July in an effort to cut costs, although it was not clear how much money the move will actually save Sun. Most of the companys 43,000 employees worldwide will be forced to either use paid vacation days or take the week off without pay, Sun representatives said.

Aiming at Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission and a dozen nations are working to combat cross-border Net fraud. The players are: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

Kurzweil Wins Prize

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Raymond Kurzweil, inventor of the first reading machine for blind people, has received the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize. Kurzweil has pioneered pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and speech reading technologies. He will donate a portion of the prize to a foundation for blind students; the rest will fund his research.

Wireless Deal OKd

The Federal Communications Commission cleared Deutsche Telekoms $26 billion merger with VoiceStream Wireless last week, despite heated opposition from some U.S. lawmakers. The commissioners said the deal, due to close in May, will give U.S. consumers more choice.

Cable Giant Blessed

Liberty Media Group and UnitedGlobalCom will combine their international cable businesses to create the largest cable television operator outside the U.S. in a deal that was approved by the European Commission last week. The deal is expected to close at the end of June. When the merger agreement was announced last June, it was valued at $4.02 billion.

Toying With Discounts

KB Toys, which has had its share of e-commerce woes, last week paid about $5.4 million for the inventory of bankrupt eToys. The company expects to sell the inventory, valued at about $40 million, at a discount through its outlet and retail stores and on its site. Etoys did not get the cash infusion it needed this year to stay alive, and filed for bankruptcy in March.